A judge has ordered the Trump administration to provide more detailed information about businesses that received COVID-19 relief loans, ruling that the “powerful” public interest in disclosure “dramatically outweighs” privacy concerns.

The decision was a victory for media organizations that sued the Small Business Administration for access to data about roughly $600 billion in loans made under the Paycheck Protection Program and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program.

The SBA had agreed in July to identify PPP borrowers but provide only loan amount ranges for loans of more than $150,000 and provide the precise dollar amounts, but not identify the borrower, for loans of under $150,000. Of the PPP’s 5.2 million loans, roughly 4.5 million were for amounts of $150,000 or less, according to SBA data.

But U.S. District Judge James E. Boasberg ruled last week that the agency could not use exemptions to the Freedom of Information Act to withhold the precise amounts of PPP loans of $150,000 or more, as well as the names and addresses of all those who borrowed less than that figure.

He also said the SBA must identify the recipients of all EIDL loans.

“The significant public interest in shedding light on SBA’s administration of the PPP and EIDL program dramatically outweighs any limited private interest in nondisclosure,” Boasberg wrote.

The PPP was the centerpiece of the federal government’s CARES Act efforts to help small businesses survive the coronavirus pandemic, providing $525 billion in forgivable loans, but concerns over fraud have prompted lawmakers and consumer groups to call for heightened oversight of the program.

In opposing disclosure of the additional data, the SBA argued that it would violate the borrowing company’s privacy because PPP loans correspond to the size of a business’s payroll. But Boasberg noted that the loan application expressly notified potential borrowers that their names and loan amounts would be “automatically released” upon a FOIA request.

“SBA advances a series of arguments that essentially all reduce to the unavailing contention that the agency did not mean what the loan-application forms actually said,” he said.

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6 responses to “Court Orders Release of PPP Borrower Details”

  1. Well if they list all companies that received money can we the business owners use this to have these banks like Capitol One Bank who won’t release our money to us because they claim it should have only be deposited in business account when I am sole proprietor even after showing proof of legit business.

  2. I had sent money to the SBA and they had took my 200$ dollars and told me that it was held in Washington state tax hold how do I go about getting my money returned back to me they entrapped me and had used my info to scame me

  3. This is why I did not apply for relief. Its a s***show at SBA and at every level of government assistance money in every form except possibly FEMA, that is if they actually give out funds.

  4. I also applied back in June for the free grant money before it even ran out and gave them my EIN number all my legit business information and I am just getting a denial letter for the EIDL loan which I did not apply for and then they told me I could still get the grant money, but then when I talked to them they said the grant money was all giving out which I don’t understand if I applied back in June when they had the funds. Then instead of them pulling information from my business they pulled information from my personal information which caused a hard inquiry on my credit score and brought my score down several points..

  5. The info should be automatically released on an FOIA request but it should not have personal data, so that’s fine. But also, the request should have to be filed on the specific business and not so easy as to allow a generic FOIA request to show ALL data. This was a government imposed shut down, a government “take the silver or the lead” program and we were at their mercy for allotment, distribution, etc. We do not reqret taking the money but we will regret it if it creates a hassle for the reluctant borrowers!

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